BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2014-15 Season Analytical Writings
The Cats won a dogfight on Friday night. Prior to the game, the conventional wisdom was the Longhorn and Wildcat front lines would neutralize one another, and that Kentucky's superior guards would the decisive factor in this game. However, Karl Towns scored 4 straight late in the first half when the Cats found themselves on the short end of a 20-14 score, and the Kentucky front court fueled a 10-0 start in the second half that broke a tie game open in the Cats favor.
The guards on the night were something of a disappointment, and a stalemate. Texas' trio of guards, Holland, Felix, and Yancy were a combined 5-18 for 19 points and responsible for 10 turnovers. The Kentucky foursome of guards, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Tyler Ulis, and Devin Booker were a combined 4-27 for 9 points, and 4 of Kentucky's 8 turnovers.
The Kentucky frontcourt won that battle 54-32 and 4-11 on turnovers. The Cats won this game with superior front court play, led by Willie Cauley-Stein, but the contributions of Dakari Johnson and Karl-Anthony Towns were each noteworthy. These Cats won an important “big boy” game by double digits against a team that is among the nation's best this season. The Cats moved to 8-0 while the Longhorns returned to Texas with their first loss in eight tries.
The Cats have several more chances to play big boy basketball, but that is not likely to happen in their next appearance on Sunday when the EKU Colonels travel north from Richmond to face their basketball neighbors at Rupp Arena. The Colonels will bring a 4-2 record into this game. However, two of the four wins came at the expense on Kentucky Christian College and Cincinnati Clermont, non-NCAA D1 opponents. Against the D1 opponents, the Colonels are 2-2 with wins over #306 Savannah State by 23 and at #338 Southern Utah by 9. The Colonels lost at #44 BYU by 14 and to #81 Valparaiso by 6 on Wednesday night.
Last season, the Colonels posted a 24-10 record, winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament before bowing out in the NCAA first round to #12 Kansas by 11. EKU ended last season with a #122 rating. EKU enters Rupp Arena on Sunday with a #147 rating.
Eastern Kentucky has played its first four games at a pace of 71 possessions per game while scoring 72.8 ppg (1.019 ppp) and allowing 69.8 ppg (0.979 ppp) against an early season schedule strength of 0.4597. The Colonels turn the ball over on 17.2% of their possessions and force turnovers 30.2% of the time. EKU retrieves 27.0% of their missed shots and 66.7% of their opponents' missed shots. The Colonels' adjusted NGE as of this morning is 0.024 ppp ( 0.077 ppp for 2014).
The Cats will bring their #1 Pomeroy rating through seven games with an adjusted NGE of 0.440 ppp. This team is playing at an average pace of 66 to 67 possessions per game, scoring 77.0 ppg (1.141ppp) and allowing 45.4 ppg (0.684 ppp). The Cats turn the ball over on 16.1% of their possessions and force turnovers on 27.9% of opponent possessions. The Cats are grabbing an unheard of 45.8% of their own missed shots, and 68.2% of opponent misses.
Vegas has opened with a 26 point line in favor of Kentucky, and Pomeroy sees this game as a 23-point UK advantage, 78-55. The Adjusted NGE comparison places this as a 36 point UK advantage, 84-48 in a game played at a pace of 69 possessions for Eastern Kentucky and 69 possessions for the Cats, with a game NGE of 0.52 ppp. The March towards March in Search of Perfection will continue Sunday evening in Rupp Arena.
Coach Calipari continues with the same platoon alignment that he used the first three games. If it “ain't” broke, don't fix it. Platoon 1 consists of Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns, Alex Poythress, Aaron Harrison, and Andrew Harrison. Platoon 2 consists of Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Devin Booker, and Dominque Hawkins for an ill Tyler Ulis. Derek Willis and E. J. Floreal will provide reserve help for either platoon should injury or fouls become an issue during the game. In recent games, Coach Calipari has been rewarding good play with more minutes regardless of the initial platoon alignment, and realigning the platoon composition based game needs and conditions.
The Cats control the opening tip, and go down low to Karl-Anthony Towns for a quick score to start the game. The Cats manage to score the first 5 points before EKU manages their first basket. EKU takes a timeout with the score 7-2 and 17:04 remaining in the first half. After the timeout, Aaron Harrison makes a driving contested layup to lift the Cats to a 9-2 lead at the under 16 media timeout. The opening segment saw the Cats hit 4 of shots, their only free throw, but commit 4 turnovers in their first 9 possessions. The Second Platoon takes over with EKU in possession of the ball off the 4 th turnover before the timeout.
In the second segment, the second platoon allows EKU to make two three pointers on three attempts to trim the lead to 5, 15-10, prompting Coach Calipari to take a timeout with 11:35 remaining to insert the first platoon into the game. The first group waste no time moving back on top by 9, 19-10 on a pair of baskets by Karl-Anthony Towns. On the second basket, Karl-Anthony Towns was fouled, sending the game to a delayed under 12 media timeout, and he will shoot his free throw when play resumes. Karl-Anthony Towns completes his 3 point play for his 10 point of this game, and the Cats move on out to a 14 point lead, 26-12, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:21 remaining.
After the timeout, the Cats commit their 6 th turnover, allowing EKU to get a second chance basket following a missed 3 pointer to trim the lead to 12 causing Coach Calipari to take a quick timeout. In the fourth segment, the Cats extend their lead to 20 points, 34-14 at the under 4 media timeout, with 3:50 remaining in the first half. The Cats take a 41-14 lead to the locker room at the break.
The first half was played at a pace of 69 possessions. The Cats scored its 41 points on 35 possessions (1.17 ppp) and Eastern Kentucky scored 14 points on 34 possessions (0.41 ppp). The Cats shot well, making 17-31 (54.8%) overall, and only 0-6 (0.0%) from outside the arc. This is the third consecutive game without a 3 pointer in the first half of the game. Eastern Kentucky shot poorly, making 4-17 (22.2%) inside the arc and 2-17 (11.8%) from outside the arc. From the line, UK made 7-8 (87.5%) while Eastern Kentucky made 0-0 (0.0%). Kentucky has owned the backboards in the first half, out rebounding EKU 28-13 overall, but EKU gained a 1 rebound advantage on the offensive boards, 6-7. However, Kentucky managed to edge the Colonels 6-4 on second chance points. The Cats managed to get only 50.0% of its misses, while Eastern Kentucky grabbed 24.1% of its misses.
The Cats committed 7 turnovers (20.0%) and forced 6 Eastern Kentucky turnovers (17.6%).
Eastern Kentucky opens the second half with a 3 pointer, and after Devin Booker misses a 3 point attempt for the Cats, EKU gets a clear path to the bucket to trim 5 quick points from the halftime lead. In response, Coach Calipari calls a timeout to find out if the second platoon wants to play or watch the remainder of this game. Coach Calipari leaves the platoon, but on the next possession, a turnover brings out the hook. The reinforcements don't do much better with 2 more turnovers as EKU has scored the first 7 points of the second half. The Cats finally get on the score board in the second half and get to the under 16 media timeout leading 44-21. In the second segment, the Cats turn up the defense again, and run out to a 52-23 lead, prompting an EKU timeout with 14:06 remaining. After going on top by 31 twice, last at 56-25, the Colonels run off 6 points to trim the lead to 25, 56-31, and will have a free throw after the under 12 media timeout with 11:14 remaining in the game.
The teams play the 3 rd segment with the Cats outscoring the Colonels 4-2 to lead 60-33 at the under 8 media timeout, 60-33, with 7:59 remaining. After the timeout, Dakari Johnson will have two free throws. At the under 4 media timeout, the lead stands at 26, 69-43, and the UK 3 point game streak is in jeopardy at 908 given the 0-10 shooting thus far, and only 3:14 remaining in this game.
Aaron Harrison ends the discussion about a game without a 3 pointer with a shot from deep on the left wing. Following an EKU free throw, Karl-Anthony Towns makes a 3 pointer from the left corner to lift the Cats on top by their game high 31 points, 75-44 with 1:54 to play. EKU takes a timeout. The Cats win by 33, 82-49.
UK scored its 82 points in 72 possessions (1.14 ppp) for the game, and Eastern Kentucky scored its 49 points on a total of 72 possessions 0.68 ppp).
Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 48-28, but the Colonels won the battle for the offensive rebounds 14-10. The Cats won the second chance points 16-10. Eastern Kentucky had an offensive efficiency of 0.541 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 0.714 ppp for its 14 second chance possessions. UK had 0.917 ppp on its 72 first chance possessions and 1.600 ppp on its 10-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a weak 41.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Eastern Kentucky was able to convert a strong 26.9% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit well from the free throw line in this game, making 13-17 [76.5%]. Eastern Kentucky made 7-10 [70.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 33-58 overall [56.9%] and 3-13 from long range [23.1%]. For Eastern Kentucky, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a low 12-39 [30.8%] and from long range, Eastern Kentucky hit 6-30 [20.0%].
The Cats committed 17 turnovers, one for every 4.2 possessions. The Cats forced 12 Eastern Kentucky turnovers, one for every 6.0 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday evening at 7 pm at Rupp Arena against Columbia.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks